Trail-Cam Catches Cat Taking Down Heard County Deer

Cougar or bobcat? Biologists lean toward the latter, a far more likely culprit in Georgia.

Nick Carter | October 29, 2010

A young deer steps into the frame. Notice the ground litter, which would appear to be a tail in the next photo.

The cat pounces. Again, notice what appears to be a tail, which would have distinguished this cat from a bobcat, is actually ground litter as evidenced in the first photo.

The cat finishes off its prey.

Notice in the left side of the frame, the deer’s hind legs as it is presumably dragged away by the cat.

A blurry photo of the cat as it leaves the scene.

At the first glance, we thought we had the undeniable proof of cougars we have been looking for in our year-long cougar quest, but DNR officials have since pointed out a couple elements in these photos that leave species identification open for doubt.

This series of photos was captured by Drew Atkins, of Franklin, on his Heard County hunting land in late September. Drew contacted GON and DNR Sgt. Jim Bradfield seeking advice on what to do about the big cat.

Both Bradfield and Region 4 Game Management Supervisor Kevin Kramer pointed out the dark markings on the cat’s ears in Photo No. 3 as evidence the cat is a bobcat. Cougars and Florida panthers also have dark coloration on the back of the ears, but Kramer said he could identify the pattern as consistent with that of a bobcat.

Also, judging from photos of deer from the same setup, this one appears to be a small fawn. Finally, what looks to be a long tail in photo No. 2, which would have distinguished this cat from a bobcat, is actually a shadow or a piece of ground litter. The same feature is in the same place in photo No. 1.

DNR seems certain this cat is a bobcat, but the doubts raised may not be enough to convince some this is not a cougar. Regardless, it’s not every day you see a cat dragging down a deer in the Georgia woods.

$1,000 reward offered for best evidence of a Georgia cougar.

GON is ponying up $1,000 to find physical evidence of Georgia cougars in the wild. With a deadline of May 1, 2011, we are asking readers to submit the best physical evidence they can legally gather of cougars. Evidence must be from Georgia, and submissions must include full name and contact information. Evidence will be subjected to an investigation to determine validity. GON will only accept original evidence (newspaper clippings or third-party evidence will not be accepted). Intentionally killed cougars will not be accepted as evidence in contention for prize money. Cash prizes ($500, $300 and $200) will be awarded for the top-three submissions. GON reserves the right to publish any evidence submitted, as well as the right to disqualify any submission for any reason.

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